On this day in 1982, an anarchist killed himself as he tried to bomb a New Zealand computer centre to protest ‘surveillance society’.
WANGANUI, NEW ZEALAND – Fear of Big Brother spurs some on to acts of terrorist violence.
It has been almost 75 years since George Orwell published his dystopian novel 1984 about a society where a very bad government kept electronic tabs on everyone. I am pretty sure everyone has already read it – probably in high school – or is at least aware of its message.
We are living in an age where mass surveillance has become normal. Whether it is your cellphone telling the network where you are, or your online browsing habits being shared with retailers so they can target you with offers and ads, we all know we are being monitored.
Some accept this with a shrug; others are very worried about it and seek to minimise their ‘digital footprint’. Whether or not it is possible to actually ‘disappear’ nowadays is a very good question.
Whether it is your cellphone telling the network where you are, or your online browsing habits being shared with retailers so they can target you with offers and ads, we all know we are being monitored.
A tiny number try to destroy the very system that they feel is responsible for the mess we find ourselves in – or seek to warn the world about what is going on (think Edward Snowden, now living in free and open Russia!).
On this day in 1982
On this day in 1982, an anarchist named Neil Roberts attempted to bomb the facility housing the main computer system for New Zealand’s police, courts and other agencies in Wanganui. Local media had dubbed the complex New Zealand’s ‘Big Brother’. Roberts approached the building after midnight and placed explosives at its doorsteps in the hope of destroying the symbol of surveillance society.
As it turned out the subsequent explosion did little damage to the facility. Roberts did nor fare so well though. Radio New Zealand reported that “the force of the blast was such that police were initially unable to determine the sex of the person killed” and Roberts’ body parts were scattered 65 metres.
Heres [sic] one anarchist down. Hopefully there’s a lot more waking up. One day we’ll win – one day. We have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity…anarchy, peace, thinking.Spray-painted message left by Roberts at the scene
Yes, many are very worried about the lack of control over their personal data. But blowing oneself up to make a point? Seems rather severe, no?
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- Eric Schmitt: Covering the terrorism beat for the New York Times - December 1, 2020